SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Even after shooting the highest score at a U.S. Open in nearly 20 years, Scott Gregory still found reason to smile.
While the opening round at Shinnecock Hills was a difficult test for many players, no one struggled quite like Gregory. At one point the Englishman endured a run of nine straight holes of bogey or worse, and he ultimately signed for a 22-over 92. It was the first score in the 90s at the U.S. Open since 2002 at Bethpage, when Felix Casas also shot a 92.
The final tally for Gregory: three pars, 10 bogeys, three double bogeys and a pair of triple bogeys.
Gregory estimated that it’s been at least eight years since he last failed to break 90, and he qualified for this week’s field with rounds of 67-69 in the England sectional qualifier. That recent success helped him maintain a refreshing perspective despite shooting an unforgettable score on one of the biggest stages.
“I mean, everyone has bad days. Even people, you look at Rory, Tiger and all those. They all struggle occasionally,” Gregory said. “I qualified last week, so I can’t be that bad. Just got to go out and try to find something.”
Gregory won the Amateur Championship in 2016, a victory that earned him spots in three majors plus last year’s Memorial Tournament. He had hoped that one of those starts might give him a chance to meet Tiger Woods, but Woods’ back injury kept him sidelined and out of view.
When his girlfriend spotted Woods on the driving range earlier this week at Shinnecock, Gregory didn’t hesitate to ask for a picture together. It’s already framed in his locker, and he hopes to get it signed by Woods before the week is over.
“I’ve been waiting for that picture for about 15 years, so quite a big deal,” Gregory said. “It was great to finally meet him.”
Gregory won’t be playing the weekend, and he is still in search of his first birdie of the championship. But after enduring what every weekend golfer would probably consider a nightmare, he kept a level head while hoping that he’ll find something positive to take from a second crack at Shinnecock.
“I mean, I was frustrated but there’s not really anything I can do about it, really. I tried to fix it, but I couldn’t,” he said. “I’m not one to give up, so I just kept plugging away. Even if I had made birdie at the last, it would have helped me for tomorrow. So I was just trying to do the best I could.”